The Beetle Leg (New Directions Paperback)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
After years of underground existence, this brilliant novel is emerging as a classic of visionary writing and still remains Hawkes's only work devoted solely to American life.
The Beetle Leg, John Hawkes's second full-length novel, was first published by New Directions in 1951. After years of underground existence, this brilliant novel is emerging as a classic of visionary writing and still remains Hawkes's only work devoted solely to American life. As a 'surrealist Western" (Newsweek), and a violent and poetic portrayal of "a landscape of sexual apathy" (Albert J. Guerard), The Beetle Leg is a rich flight into the special vein of comedy that Hawkes had begun to exploit a decade before the popular acceptance of "black humor."
coveralls there thrust two shiny leather boots. A leather jacket could be seen at the collar and from the breast pocket there hung the broad white elastic strap of a pair of goggles. He did not speak but watched the cowboy with the rest. “That must’ve been the car I met. Parked up the road apiece where the driver’s kid was snakebit.” They stirred as if to rise and settled again, the spy among them silent, faces turned to the shadow. “I reckon not. I don’t reckon a car like that’d ever stop out
nodded. “Who,” smiling at the boy, “would know him if they saw him?” “Everybody. But,” raising a half cured cheek and open mouth, “he’d be a sorry sight if he showed up.” The Mexican, neck of the guitar resting against the hollow of his hip, reached into the bucket, drew forth a foot nipped by fish, dyed purple on the brown. He pulled it into the light. “You,” said Camper’s wife, “do you remember him?” For answer his head bowed over the gravel. “He’d be forty years old now,” a brisk voice
spoke: “Don’t leave me about this house. Just put me over Mulge, just lie me so as I can look down on him.” Her surviving son’s old friends, receiving the actual remains among them and charged with picking the location, repeated the message to each other several times until they straightened her on the ground they thought she meant and dug beside her. They sighted along shovels and determined that she hover where she wished. “Do you think she might find it better down aways?” “She can’t be
mile twists of wire sheared the damp land into fields and made it claim to a farm, a ranch, a fallen barn. Phosphorescent clumps of weed and sage rolled airily in sight, but lone animals moved invisibly though a hoof click on stone carried for miles through the warm evening. Mosquitoes beat against the inside and outside of the windows and Luke Lampson’s horses thudded out of range of the house and, motionless, hung their heads over the furthest stretch of wire. Luke stomped up the steps, two
fingers, Camper holding the child’s shoulders, he relaxed his face and posture and sucked the wounds, his eyes growing heavy in the headlights, staring, as if the venom had a hard and needy taste to a man who, in all his youth on the infested range, had never himself been bitten. He took it as one of his four drays copped the bar of salt, hung over it, and kept it from the rest. Specks of red appeared on Camper’s yellow shirt and with one hand he swatted, all the while watching the cowboy draw,